New Test Format Fails

Kelly Pien, Opinion Editor

This past Friday, sophomores took the Smarter Balanced Field Test, or SBAC, which will soon be implemented state-wide as a replacement for the STAR exam. After experiencing the new test, many students complained about both its format and its content.

I’m one of them.

The smarter balanced test’s computer interface was hard to navigate and the test itself contained convoluted questions.

First of all, the window format is a mess. In my testing room, it took 26 minutes for everyone to log in and start the test. The actual test was just as difficult to navigate. I took the test on an iPad. I couldn’t use a traditional keyboard to type all of my numbers, instead having to type on the on-screen keyboard, which was tedious. Graphing points was a nightmare, as I had trouble placing the points in the exact spot.

In addition, the test loaded each question slowly, and I often wasn’t sure if I had pressed the answer.

The test questions contained lots of extraneous information that was not needed to solve the problem. I didn’t need to know that Suzie was drinking out of a soda can at lunch and was musing about the volume of her can, just tell me that I need to calculate the volume of the two cans!

I wasted time figuring out what exactly was being asked in each question.

I would prefer to go back to the STAR tests. They are straight-forward and do not require cumbersome, poorly designed computer interfaces dependent on temperamental technology.

If we must stay with the Smarter Balanced tests, the test must be refined. Login should require fewer passwords and usernames and codes, decreasing the chances of error.

No one should take the test on iPads. Everyone should take it on a laptop or desktop computer with a traditional keyboard and mouse.

The test questions should be written in the same style as the STAR questions.  I don’t need to have Suzy set the scene in order to be in the mood to do math.